Monkey D. Luffy, the boy made out of rubber, is back in One Piece - Season One Voyage Two from FUNimation. One of the most popular and longest running anime series (currently at over 370 episodes) One Piece is an irreverent and fun filled romp that's sure to please young and old viewers alike. In this set Luffy continues to fill out his pirate crew and starts one of the most enjoyable story arcs in the series: his search for a cook and his encounter with the Baratie restaurant.
When Gold Roger, the King of the Pirates was executed, he used his last words to tell the world that he had hidden all of his treasure: "You want it, you can have it. Find it! I left everything the world has to offer there!" This started the Great Pirate Era: the seas are filled with men looking for adventure, riches, and most of all Gold Roger's treasure: the One Piece.
Of the many looking for the One Piece, few are as unlikely to find it as Monkey D. Luffy. This young boy has vowed to become King of the Pirates, but he doesn't have a ship, or even a crew. He sets off to sea in a barrel, and it is only by luck that he's taken aboard a pirate ship.
While Luffy may have none of the skills that a pirate would need, like how to navigate on water (or dry land for that matter) he does have a powerful advantage: he's eaten a Gum-Gum Devil Fruit. This magical object has turned his body to rubber. Not only does this make him invulnerable to bullets and most physical attacks, but he can stretch his arms great lengths and use his first as powerful weapons or turn himself into a human slingshot and launch his body through the air. Along with his unwavering resolve to succeed, this makes him a formidable opponent.
The first set of shows basically involves Luffy getting his crew together along with cleaning the floor with a couple of mean pirates (and an evil naval officer.) The first person he recruits is Zoro (translated as Zolo in the manga) a pirate-hunter who wants to become known as the best swordsman in the world. He also manages to convince an attractive thief, Nami, to become his navigator, and as this set ends has just met Usopp, a youth who's good with a slingshot (and telling tall tales) who has dreams of becoming a great pirate also.
The collection opens with Luffy, Zoro, and Nami helping a young man, Usopp, defend his village against the Black Cat Pirates and their captain, Kuro. The Black Cats seem to be very formidable, and with Luffy knocked out it's anyone's guess who will win. They first send Meowban Brothers to clear out Luffy's gang, but Zoro is more than a match for them.
Things get worse when Kuro gets into the action. He's tired of being a pirate, so he plans to get a his 2nd command, Jango, to hypnotize a local heiress, have her write out a will naming Kuro as sole heir to her fortune, and then kill her. Then he'll be a respected member of society. The only problem is that his crew knows that he used to be a pirate captain, so he decided to kill them too. Luffy wakes up just in time to hear this and doesn't like it at all. How dare he disrespect his crew by killing them?!! There's no way the rubber kid is going to stand for that.
Next, after a quick stand alone episode, Luffy and the gang set sail. They soon realize that though they have food, they don't have anyone who can prepare it. They need a cook, and the best place to find one is on the Baratie restaurant, a floating eatery housed on a ship that looks like a fish that caters to pirates. As they arrive a naval war ship shows up too and fires at Luffy's ship. He deflects the cannon ball but it lands on the Baratie and destroys part of the roof. Luffy wants to pay for the damages, but since he doesn't have any money the head cook, Chef Zeff, agrees to let him off if he works for the restaurant for one year with no pay. Luffy agrees, but he's sure he'll be able to talk Zeff down quickly.
Things get bad when the pirate Don Krieg shows up. He took a fleet of 50 ships and 5000 men to the Grand Line to look for the One Piece and his entire flotilla, save one ship, was destroyed in under a week. Now he's come back in search of a new ship, and the Baratie looks like just the ticket.
Like the first set, these shows are just a lot of fun. This anime is based on a long running manga that appears in Shonen Jump, and as such it's aimed at young boys. There are lots of fights and plenty of action. What makes this show better than several other Shonen Jump-based anime is that this one doesn't take itself seriously at all. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Luffy and his friends walk through a strange and unusual world that's almost comical. In the stand alone episode Luffy meets a man who has been stuck in an empty treasure chest for so long that it has grown to be a part of him. He lives on an island with elephant-sized turtles and other odd creatures. That's not to mention the Baratie, the fish-shaped floating restaurant, or the pirate Pearl, an effeminate villain who catches on fire when he gets upset. With strange and unusual characters, outrageous situations, and a tongue firmly planted in cheek, One Piece is a great show.
It should also be noted that this is the uncut version of the show. Though it is aimed at kids, there is some swearing. People called "ass" and "son of a bitch", but nothing worse than that. People do get killed too, and when blood is spilled it's red. The show isn't very bloody though, and I had no problems letting my 6th grader watch it.
This set contains the next 13 episodes (14-26) on two DVDs, each in its own thinpak case. The two cases are held in a nice slipcase.
This set offers the original Japanese track in stereo as well as an English dub in either stereo or 5.1. While the 5.1 dub was nice during the battle scenes, I preferred the original language track. The voices just seemed to fit characters better and made for a more enjoyable viewing experience. The English voice actors did do a good job however and people who like watching in English shouldn't be disappointed.
The full frame video looked pretty good overall. The colors were bright and solid and the blacks were nice and inky. The image was generally sharp too. The only real problem was a more than average amount of aliasing. Diagonal lines are often jagged and when the camera pans across a scene, fine lines tend to shimmer a bit. There's also a bit of cross colorization, but it wasn't distracting.
I was a little disappointed that the bonus items were so meager. There's a "Marathon Play" option, which lets you watch the show without the opening and closing credits, which is really cool. I wish more anime would offer something like this. Unfortunately the only other bonus item is a clean opening.
A funny, irreverent, and exciting show, it's great to finally get to see this program in its uncut form. With a lot of adventure and action, this show never takes itself seriously and that's what makes it so enjoyable. While there aren't many laugh-out-loud sections, the whole attitude of the show will have you smiling all the way through. Highly Recommended.